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Fun times at Leechburg Festival

| Sunday, Aug. 22, 2004

The storms that drenched the Valley over the past few days didn't daunt those at the Leechburg Festival in Riverfront Park.

"This place was like a watering hole this morning but the water went down and we have a nice group here and the entertainment has been nice," said Carol Shick, president of Leechburg Festival. "There was a good crowd here earlier when the Leechburg High School Cheerleaders and Marching band performed.

"The quilters are doing beautiful work. The fudge is good. The chocolate covered strawberries are so good," Shick said.

"This is the first time we've had a dance floor," Shick said. "Last year people didn't want to dance on the grass."

This is the third year the festival has been held in Riverfront Park. For about 20 years before, it was held on River Street, according to festival organizers. Twenty-six vendors signed up. Two more, a T-shirt and food vendor, are coming on Sunday, according to Shick.

A moon bounce, face painting and ski ball are some of the activities attracting families.

Donna Roppolo ran the ski ball booth with her nephew twice removed, Derricke Roppolo, 8.

At 3:30 p.m. they had made $40, with six balls at 50 cents and 12 at $1.

"That's pretty good for just goofing around," Roppolo said. "We expect more people Sunday after church and around dinner time."

The proceeds from the ski ball will go to the Leechburg festival to help defray some of the expenses, Shick said.

Julia Olshansky, 4, was one of roughly 25 children at the face painting booth throughout the afternoon. A pastel colored butterfly decorated her face.

"We come every year," said Julia's mother Karen. "Despite the weather, it's been a nice day."

Dressed in Colonial garb, the women of Holy Martyr's Church in Tarentum have been holding a raffle for their handmade quilts.

"The proceeds go to various charities," said Dee Pavlik, pointing out the sign at the front of the booth listing charities such as Red Door Ministries to the Homeless, Holy Martyrs religious education, a boys' orphanage in Guatemala and a youth mission trip to Haiti.

The festival has traditional food staples including funnel cake, fudge, fresh squeezed lemonade and French fries.

"This is one of the better organized festivals we go to," said Julie Dunmire, co-owner with Evelyn Cribbs of J&E Commissary in Saltsburg. "So far it's been a little slow because of the rain.

"The waffle cones, lemonade and slushies are our best-sellers," Dunmire said. They also sell popcorn and candied apples.

The Leechburg Volunteer Fire Department, which sells hot dogs on Market Street every Saturday from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m., set up a stand at the fair.

"Everyone knows out hot dogs," said Donna Phillips, who worked the stand with Eric Altman, a firefighter. "Last year, we did a couple of hundred dollars worth, but it depends on the crowd and the weather. We usually do well on Market Street, so we'll probably match that this weekend."

"I come for the crafts, jewelry and all the nice things for the yard," said Millie Klanica of West Leechburg. "I'm in for all that."

Leechburg resident, Samuel Mansueto said he's waiting for the polka band to perform Sunday night.

"That's my kind of music," he grinned.

Additional Information:

Leechburg Festival

Here's a schedule for today's entertainment:

  • 11:30 - 12:30 p.m. the Armstrong County Legion of Arts, a country band from Kittanning.

  • 1-4 p.m. Merry Makers, a polka band.

  • 5-8 p.m. The New Orleans Trio, a Pittsburgh-area Cajun and brass band.

    The Leechburg Museum also is open during the festival.

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